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Bakersfield Farmworker is Challenging GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

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We have long warned Republicans that their opposition to immigration reform will cost them dearly in the long run.  But some advocates are also looking to make the topic an issue in the short run — for example, Raul Garcia, a farmworker in central California who has emerged as the challenger to GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) this fall.  Erica Werner at the Associated Press has the profile on Garcia and his longshot campaign.  Garcia doesn’t necessarily expect to win, but is demanding “a straight answer” from McCarthy regarding the latter’s positions on immigration reform and the House GOP’s continued refusal to pass legislation.  Read more about Garcia and his campaign against McCarthy at the Associated Press, or below:

Raul Garcia has a question for Kevin McCarthy, the House’s No. 2 Republican: “While we are waiting for you on immigration reform, who should be harvesting America’s food?”

It’s a provocative query and the foundation of Garcia’s long-shot challenge to McCarthy, a four-term incumbent who rose to power after another GOP leader thought unsinkable, Virginia’s Eric Cantor, fell to an unknown candidate in a primary.

Garcia’s is a longshot challenge. He’s an unknown California farm worker who got on the ballot as a write-in candidate. But he now has backing from labor unions, and ambitions to hold the new House majority leader to account in his own, agriculture-rich back yard for the failure of the Republican House to move immigration legislation.

“My idea is to send a message that the whole country will hear,” Garcia said in Spanish in a phone interview from Wasco, Calif., after a night shift hauling tomatoes. “The farmworkers are the ones who put the food on the tables of the whole country. And we are not being represented”…

Garcia works alongside the laborers each day, and through his candidacy he hopes to highlight the reality that despite Congress’ inaction the nation is as reliant as ever on their labor. “It doesn’t have to do with money, it has to do with conscience,” he said.

The economy and demographics of McCarthy’s district, which is more than one-third Latino, make immigration a pressing question there. But to the frustration of advocates for overhauling the immigration system, McCarthy has won re-election to four terms without answering their demands. A few other California Republicans have embraced comprehensive immigration legislation— like the bill that passed the Senate last year before dying in the House. But McCarthy rejected that approach, joining other House GOP leaders in calling for border security first and a step-by-step approach….

Garcia, 46, is a Mexican immigrant who speaks little English and says he entered the U.S. illegally at age 17 to look for work. He became a naturalized citizen under the amnesty signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and has spent a quarter-century picking crops in the region….

Even if he can’t hope to defeat McCarthy, Garcia wants at least to get him to confront the question of where inaction on immigration legislation leaves America’s workers. “I want Congressman McCarthy to give us a straight answer,” Garcia says in his campaign ad.